Bob Becker

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since Oct 06, 2014
Beulah, CO
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Recent posts by Bob Becker

We have foxes, dogs, packs of coyotes, mountain lions and neighbors have bears.  The coyotes, skunks and foxes have been our biggest problem.  Electric fence net works 99% of the time just great with a 3 Joule charger.  In 5 years, we've had a few instances of our entire flock being wiped out by coyotes and foxes.  Once they learn the sweet taste of chicken or duck, they keep coming back.  The only obvious solution I've found being catching them in the act and shooting the bugger.   They make fine compost.  
2 years ago
You could pour the oils on a giant pile of newly anerobic wood chips and cardboard (soaked 2-3 weeks in an IBC tote full of water, maybe don't soak the cardboard though).  Then (now that it's "sterile") colonize it with oyster mushroom mycelium or turkey tail, or whatever.  You should get a helluva crop!  They do this for bioremediation of soil, but in this case, it's non-toxic so you could eat them.  Mushrooms will eat pretty much anything including rocks!  
2 years ago
The general doctrine approach is to fix the soil and water situation first with earthworks, mulch and nitrogen fixers, I'd also suggest adding fungal material.  Apples are a understory tree.  You'll do better with canopy support species to help them along.  I'd look at over-stacking (plant it way too tight) nitrogen fixing trees in and around your apples and other fruit trees.  We over-stack the trees so we can pulse nitrogen into the soil via coppicing and pollarding the less-than-perfect nitrogen supporting trees.  As those sacrificial trees are removed (really chop and drop in-place), you'll leave a few support trees (think honeylocust, or purple robe).  Another added benefit of over-stacking is that the trees will be in competition to grow faster and straighter than without.  

I'd also add peas en masse to the soil to give a quick nitrogen pulse and also think about adding nitrogen fixing shrubs.  

I've also used Geoff Lawton's recommendation to put cardboard in the planting hole to stimulate mycelium growth.  You could also innoculate your wood chips with garden mushrooms.  Just do some searching on Paul Stamets.  He has a lot of material on this.    If you're going to get bees, you'll definitely want to do this.  Bees will drink the nectar off of mushrooms which assist their immune systems (which may also be a solution to colony collapse disorder, Yes it's that promising!).  

Like others said above.  It's best to just start doing like you are.  You are going to learn a ton as you go.  
2 years ago
I don't think there is any significant difference in thermal mass and storage in a refractory brick versus a regular fired red brick, or even concrete.  I expect the difference would be <5% between them.  The biggest difference is the refractory brick will survive to 2000F or so, and it's ugly.  Lots of mass does wonders in the woodstove surround.  If you want to spice it up a bit, you could put some phase change material behind the thermal mass.  Phase change material works like a thermal battery, storing energy until it's chemical threshold is reached, then it dumps out the energy very fast.  You can make your own if you were a quick study in Chemistry in HS or college.  Many put it in PVC pipes, but it's also sold commercially in bubble wrap sheets for green buildings behind drywall.  It's very compact for it's energy storage capabilities.  

As someone mentioned above, Soapstone has the largest thermal mass capability, but it's expensive.  
2 years ago
Unfortunately, I don't think you're going to have much luck with shredded aluminum as insulation.  Aluminum itself is a great conductor of electricity and heat.  I'm afraid you're going to lose all that heat through conduction.  Generally insulation material is manufactured from things that trap lots of air pockets and are insulators themselves like spun glass and paper.  

Aluminum is certainly an exciting substance from a chemical reaction standpoint.  You could probably think of something there: thermite fire starters for wet logs, etc.  
2 years ago
Ok, I live and manage cattle and sheep in dryland Colorado. First thing, baby grass should normally be avoided for grazing.  Depending on the grass though, teenage and mature grass should be the target.  My experience has been best when grazing a paddock somewhat quickly, then get everything off the ground for sometimes up to a year.  

I've had cattle graze standing hay (dormant) almost to the ground in winter (blue gramma - which has great dry protein content).  It really didnt look good and we had it come back stronger than ever.  You just need to give it a good break.

I would suggest observation of neighbors grazing practices and the result.  Also, you can just try it on a small scale until you get it dialed in.  In dry climates nitrogen tends to be deficient more times than not. Experiment small scale, observe the results, correct as needed.  Animals or combinations of animals intended to be grazed also will vary your plan.  Birds following ruminants work really, really well!!
2 years ago

I am familiar with the areas around Corning and Binghamton upstate NY as I am there for work every 2 months.  I've also been through a PDC.  

There are lots of free apps and data likely already available (investigate that first)
Secondly, you can take a google earth contour and import GPS data like contour lines into that map. So if you have a rotary laser level and a GPS, you can DIY it (worst case).  

If you're planning swales, key lines  or other earthworks, you can always just use a laser level to do all your work.  The most important thing is to find the lowest point on the highest boundary of your property and work from there.

I hope that helps.  Let me know if I'm on your way and could be of any assistance.  


2 years ago
Hi all!

Bob from Beulah, CO here. I haven't posted here in a few months, but we've been really busy. I've been working on getting our ground prepared for this season, as well as finishing up Geoff Lawton's PDC course. I've also purchased a brand new Yeoman's keyline plow with seeding attachments. So if anyone is looking to do some keyline work or wants to see some in action, PM me. I should have the plow in the ground in the next few weeks.

I'll try to post some pictures up here as I go as well.

Thanks all!!
5 years ago
Thanks Scott! I truly appreciate everyone's input. It's very helpful to get other points of view!!

Thanks everyone very much!
5 years ago

Thanks so much for the response!

So the existing chimney is 4" inner diameter. Is that going to be sufficient to exhaust a 6" system? Or do they make bigger triple wall pipe that will fit in a 7" OD hole. The pipe that's there is 4" ID, and 7" OD.

For the pass-through: a pair of 6" pipes stacked (horizontally or vertically) plus 8" masonry plus 4" air gap will require an approx 30" x a 36" hole on the stacked pipe dimension. Could I use triple wall pipe on the pass-through and make a smaller hole? Or does that not gain me anything as far as a smaller hole in the wall?


5 years ago